Tag Archives: Ipswich Journal


Fire was a constant threat in London, where memories of the Great Fire ran deep. Since then, building codes had been improved in an effort to minimize the spread of a fire, but there were still frequent and devastating fires. This report, from the Ipswich Journal, is of a relatively minor one in September 1735. The report also gives an interesting snapshot of the various businesses on one street, a picture not always easy to come by.

On Sunday Morning, a Fire broke out in a Back-House or Workshop of Mr. Brown a Hatter, on the North-Side of Wapping-Street by Wapping-Dock; the Flames immediately catched hold of Timber Piles in the Yard adjoining to the said Shed, thence to the Houses on the East-Side of Wapping-Dock-Street, and at the same Time to another Timber-Yard Eastward of the other, and to the House of Mr. Stiggers, standing in the Cartway passage to the said Yards, and thence to the Houses on the West side of King Edward Street, and to the South and North sides of Cinamon-Street: In Wapping-Dock-Street 11 Houses were burnt down to the Ground, and seven damaged; in Cinamon Street 16 burnt down, and eight damaged; in King Edward-street four burnt down, and 10 damaged; -the Ship Tavern the Corner of Wapping-Dock-Street and Wapping streets, having a good party Wall, check’d its Fury on that Side, and the Southerly Wind carrying the Flames Northward, chiefly sav’d not only Mr. Brown’s Dwelling-House, but the Houses of a Distiller, a Pewterer, a Cork Cutter, an empty House, a Grocer’s and a Milliner’s House in the same Row, though the Outhouses or sheds belonging to every one of them were totally destroyed: All the Inhabitants are safe, the Flames of the Timber giving them sufficient Notice to avoid them. Mr. Dean, Deputy Foreman of the Royal-Exchange Firemen, and Mr. Mackarel, a Fireman to the London Assurance, received some Damage by the Fall of a Wall, but their Wounds are not dangerous.

Thankfully, the pub was saved, athough thirty-one houses were destroyed and 25 more dmaged.

The Perils of Drink

Back in the 1700s, the English were always getting into trouble drinking. Some things never change. Here is a selection of stories from the Ipswich Journal of the late 1720s.

Yesterday two Men quarrelling at an Alehouse in Holborn, went by Agreement into the Fields to fight, and one gave the other a Kick on his Groin which kill’d him on the Spot.

That same newspaper also carried the following advertisements for those seeking refreshment:

At Mrs. Thomas Summers at the King’s Head in Debenham, will be Sold good White and Red Port, at the following Prizes, viz. White port at 6s, 8d per Gallon, and 1s 8d per Quart within the House; and 6s per Gallon, and 1s 6 per Quart without Doors; Red Port at 6s 8d per Gallon, and 1s 8d per Quart within the House; and 6s per Gallon, and 1s 6d per Quart without Doors.

At Timothy Dickerson, living in St. Peter’s Parish, Ipswich, fine Cognac Brandy and Foreign Rum at Seven Shillings per Gallon, and right Holland Geneva at Five Shillings and Four Pence per Gallon; and fine Bohea Tea, by Wholesale or Retail at 12s. per Pound. N.B. He Sell no British Brandy, nor never did.

Being a tradesman was a chancy thing, and not all the punters were honest.

We hear from Eltham in Kent, that last Week two Fellows that were drinking at an Alehouse there, paid their Reckoning in new Half-Pence; but the Landlord shewing them afterwards to some Persons in the House, they were discovered to be counterfeited, being made of false Metal, upon which they pursued and found them at the next Alehouse on the Road, where, it seems they intended to play the same Game, and being seized and searched, they found more of the like Counterfeit Coin upon then, and the Moulds in which they were made, also Moulds for Shillings and Six-pences, upon which they were carried before a Magistrate and committed to Maidstone Goal.

And beware those drinking competitions.

We are informed from Thorn near Hagerston in Northumberland, That last Friday 7-Night, Francis Cooper and Joshua Threils, two noted Brandy Drinkers in those Parts, who for several Times had contended which could drink most, engaged each other which should drink most, the latter fell dead in taking off his 5th Pint Glass, and the former is so dangerously ill that ’tis thought he can’t recover.

It’s not just brandy you have to be careful of, there’s also gin.

Last Wednesday Night one White, a Barber in Salisbury Court, Fleet-Street, laid a Wager that he drank four Half Pints of Geneva, one at a Draught, in eight Minutes; and at drinking his second Half-Pint, dropt down dead.

Take care, people.

Monkey Business

Lightening the dark days of a particularly hard winter, the Ipswich Journal, quoting from Stanley’s Newsletter of 7 January 1729, reported the following affair.

The following Mistake or Blunder has been lately discovered to the great Diversion of People in general: A Merchant of this City trading to the West-Indies, having wrote to his Correspondent to send him two Monkeys, which Word he spelled too, the Correspondent took it for Number 100, upon which he bought up 56 Monkeys, the Freight whereof by Agreement came to 56 Guineas, besides the prime Cost. They are all arrived safe with a Bill of Lading, to the great surprise of the Merchant here, who has been given to understand, that the other 44 shall be shipped off as soon as they can be procured.

Just Resting

Along with the regular run of politics, murders, fire, and robberies, the newspapers liked to carry the odd color story. Here is one from the Ipswich Journal of December 1728 you might like.

On Tuesday last, a dead Parrot of a Lady in Rose-Street, after lying in State some time, was put into the Ground, with great Solemnity, in the Pall-Mall, in a Place constantly kept by the said Lady, for the Interment of Birds, Dogs, &c. No Cost was spar’d in the Procession, the Attendants on Poll to her last Home, having Crapes, Gloves, &c, bestowed on them; and the Lady was condol’d with, suitable to so great a Loss.

The solemnity of the report was perhaps slightly marred by the ‘m’ of Solemnity being printed upside-down, although I have no idea how accidental or intentional that was.

The Ipswich Journal

Ipswich gained its local newspaper, The Ipswich Journal, in 1720, founded by John Bagnall who had recently moved from London to Ipswich. In common with most other provincial newspapers, the news was mostly digested from London sources, with very little local information. Gradually, notices of local events appeared, and then the crucial ingredient for a successful newspaper, and the source that makes old papers interesting to a modern audience, advertising. In the first few issues, the only advertisement was for Bagnall himself and his printing office.

By 1721, Bagnall was including ads from other, paying, customers, such as this one from March 1721 for William Craighton.

Along with the newspaper, Bagnall printed and published a few local books, including John Kirby’s Suffolk Traveller in 1735. Bagnall continued publishing the paper for almost twenty years, until his business was taken over by William Craighton in 1739. Craighton restored the original title of the newspaper (Bagnall had re-titled it the Ipswich Gazette) and got a new type-face for it. The format and content remained much the same. Craighton published several books, the industry having picked up pace since the 1720s and 1730s. Among his publications were Kirby’s Historical Account, and the first edition of the Method of Perspective. Craighton died in 1761, and the newspaper and printing business continued under his sister, Elizabeth Craighton, and nephew, William Jackson. Jackson bought out Elizabeth Craighton’s interest in 1769, but in the 1770s he ran into financial difficulties, joined the East India Company, enlisted with Clive in India and was never heard of again.

Meanwhile Elizabeth Craighton had restarted the newspaper with the help of another nephew, Stephen Jackson, and a different printer. Under various proprietors the Ipswich Journal continued until 1902, when it closed citing lack of advertisers and competition from more recent daily newspapers and monthly magazines.

The local newspaper may not have been used much for local news, but it was seen as a valuable medium for advertising, especially for books. Kirby had numerous advertisements in the paper, and we shall meet some of them. To whet your appetite, here is a rather charming ad from 1740 for Kirby’s Scole prints.

Watson, S.F. Some materials for a history of printing and publishing in Ipswich, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History, 24, 3 (1946/1948), 182-227.

Wiles, R.M. Freshest Advices. Early Provincial Newspapers in England, Ohio State University Press, 1965.